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Anti-social behaviour Policy

VERSION NUMBER                                                      3.3

1.0. Introduction

Genesis is committed to tackling anti-social behaviour (ASB) in a responsive and robust manner. We recognise that if allowed to persist, ASB can significantly affect quality of life for our customers and that dissatisfaction with the living environment may have a negative impact on the way we are able to manage our homes. We will work with partner agencies to tackle the causes and effects of ASB, using a consistent and clear approach.

ASB can include a range of activities and is a problem which has many causes. It requires a wide range of responses to tackle it effectively. We will balance enforcement action and intervention with programmes which aim to prevent ASB. We will use a three-point approach to tackling anti-social behaviour – engagement including preventative measures, support and enforcement including legal action.

We support the Respect - ASB Charter for Housing and are committed to tackling ASB and promoting a culture of respect in the communities where we work.

 

Aims

We aim to:

  • tackle the causes of ASB and prevent incidents of ASB from arising
  • prevent incidents of ASB from escalating, where they do arise
  • take the necessary management intervention and legal action to deal with perpetrators of ASB
  • provide customers with appropriate advice and assistance
  • work in partnership with other specialist agencies where appropriate
  • support staff to tackle ASB
  • support customers and sustain tenancies

Relevant legislation

  • Anti -Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014
  • Equality Act 2010
  • Antisocial Behaviour Act 2003
  • Police and Justice Act 2004
  • Crime and Disorder Act 1998
  • Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994
  • Dangerous Dogs Act 1989, 1991
  • Data Protection Act 1998
  • Environmental Protection Act 1990
  • Homelessness Act 2002
  • Housing Act 1985,1988,1996, 2004
  • Human Rights Act 1998
  • Mental Health Act 1983, 2007
  • Noise Act 1996
  • Noise and Statutory Nuisance Act 1993
  • Protection From Harassment Act 1997
  • Race Relations Act 1976 and Amendment Act 2000
  • Health Act 2006

Definitions

The term anti-social behaviour covers a wide range of selfish and unacceptable activities that have a negative effect on the quality of community life and the private lives of people within those communities.

We use the following definition of ASB, as stated in the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014:

a)      Conduct that has caused, or is likely to cause, harassment, alarm or distress to any person,

b)      Conduct capable of causing nuisance or annoyance to a person in relation to that person’s occupation of residential premises, or

c)       Conduct capable of causing housing-related nuisance or annoyance to any person.

People to whom the conduct may cause nuisance or annoyance includes:

  • anyone who has a right to live in property that Genesis owns or manages
  • those living in any other property in the neighbourhood
  • anyone else lawfully in such a property or in the locality, for example those working nearby or using local facilities.

Housing related issues includes  any of our day-to-day activities and the strategic management of our stock,  for example where a persons behaviour impacts on our ability to deliver a maintenance, rent collection and neighbourhood management service.         

Matters that ‘indirectly affect’  the housing management function could include social care and housing support, environmental health, refuse collection and other services that enable us to operate efficiently.

Domestic noise is frequently and incorrectly reported as ASB. Please refer to the Domestic noise policy for further guidance.

 

1.0. Customer obligations

All customers, their household members and their visitors must show consideration to their neighbours by complying with the terms of their occupancy agreement and not to commit, or allow their family or visitors to commit acts of ASB. This includes harassment, noise nuisance, annoyance or disturbance to other residents, their visitors or other people in the area, such as our staff and contractors whether unintential, deliberate or personally motivated.

 

2.0. Tackling the causes and dealing with ASB effectively

There are many factors that could influence someone’s behaviour in a way others might consider anti-social. Where these are identified we will provide support to the customer  directly or by referring customers to external agencies as necessary.

We will use a multi- agency approach in dealing with ASB issues where necessary,  by sharing knowledge and expertise, including feedback to assess the effectiveness of the interventions used.

We aim to deal with ASB in a proportionate and appropriate manner. Our approach includes engaging with complainants and alleged perpetrators, providing support and/ or taking enforcement action.

We also aim to use preventative approaches to include:

  • clear clauses in occupancy agreements prohibiting ASB and detailing customer responsibilities
  • providing new customers with information on our policy and procedure on ASB at the start of their occupancy and settling in visits for new customers
  • publicising our commitment to dealing with ASB, for example in newsletters
  • sensitive lettings
  • community initiatives
  • a variety of tenancy options in line with our Tenancy policy
  • effective design of new developments and where possible improvements to existing developments, so as to reduce the potential for crime and ASB
  • considering refusing applicants with a known history of  serious ASB
  • assessing support needs , providing support directly or referring customers to external agencies as necessary. This is applicable to both victims and perpetrators alike.
  •  provision of support for perpetrators with the aim of reducing further incidencies of ASB

 

3.0. Responding to ASB

Customers can report ASB to Genesis by phone, e-mail, in writing or in person. We advise customers to report all criminal behaviour to the police.

We will take a customer focussed approach to tackling ASB, working with the complainant and the alleged perpetrator, aiming to reach agreed actions, timescales and ultimately closure. Except in very serious cases, our initial intervention will aim to stop the problem behaviour. We recognise that early intervention is important to stop cases escalating.

On receiving a report of ASB, we will:

  • listen to complaints and give complainants advice as to what they can do and what they can expect from us
  • assess and monitor any risk
  • keep to specified target response times for acknowledging and responding to reports of ASB
  • ensure the emergency services have been notified where there has been/is a risk to life and begin our investigation within 2 working days
  • develop an action plan with the complainant, being clear and realistic about potential outcomes and timescales involved, choosing from a toolkit of different actions and taking action proportionate to the type of ASB reported
  • refer customers to external agencies as appropriate
  • liaise with relevant internal departments
  • file note all reports of ASB and monitor the progress of the case
  • keep in regular contact with the complainant and advise how they can record any future incidents, for example using diary sheets.

On some occasions, an alleged perpetrator may make a counter-claim against the original complainant. We will adopt this same approach on responding to counter-claims.

 

4.0. Taking action against perpetrators

The intervention we use will vary depending on the nature and type of ASB reported.

When a problem first arises, we may encourage customers to speak to the person causing the problem where appropriate with a view to resolving the problem.

If deemed not appropriate, we will interview the alleged perpetrator.

We will make sure that people who are responsible for ASB know the possible consequences of their behaviour, including the possibility of losing their home.

We will carry out regular estate inspections, monitor and respond to incidents of ASB in communal areas such as graffiti, misuse of gardens, fly-tipping etc.

As part of our investigation of a reported ASB case, we will consider whether there are any wider household needs, including child protection issues. If a staff member has any concerns relating to child or adult abuse, this will be reported to the relevant authorities, in line with our policies on safeguarding .

 

4.1. Taking non-legal action

Mediation - Where the issue is a neighbour dispute, we will consider mediation. In cases where discussion between neighbours has not been possible or has not resolved the issue, we can facilitate mediation. This is a process aimed at resolving disputes between two or more parties on a voluntary basis. The process is facilitated by a third party and is based on the principle of reaching resolutions through communication and compromise.

Warnings - Prior to taking legal action, warnings can be issued and copies kept on file .These can be issued when the ASB is continuous but the resident of the source address refuses to acknowledge the problem and/or deal with the issue following intervention and advice by relevant Genesis staff. All such instances of warnings being issued will be recorded and monitored. 

Acceptable Behaviour Contracts (ABC) – These are written contracts drawn up between the alleged perpetrator and Genesis. It is not legally binding but we often involve the police and other relevant agencies in their construction. The ABC usually stipulates that the resident does not engage in or carry out certain deliberate acts which are usually seen as nuisance and/ or anti-social.

Parental Contracts - Where informal interventions are used against those under 18 years of age, we can use Parental Contracts to monitor the behaviour of the individual, in partnership with the parents or guardian. This tool is similar to an ABC but is signed by the parent or guardian. If the behaviour of the parent is seen to be a contributory factor in the childs behaviour, we will also involve other agenices in their construction.

 

4.2. Taking legal action

We will consider legal action where there is sufficient evidence. Eviction will only be considered where other interventions have failed and will be used as a last resort.

We will make use of the following, as appropriate to each case:

  • Legal notices
  • Disceretionary possession order using ground 14
  • Mandatory possession order using ground 7a, following a full review of the case
  • Forfeiture of lease
  • Civil Injunctions
  • s.21 Notice Requiring Possession

We will also work with partner agencies to take relevant action below:

  • noise abatement notices (issued by local authorities)
  • premises closure orders for premises where drugs are used unlawfully or where the premises is associated with significant and persistent disorder (with Police)
  • parenting contracts/ orders

We will ensure that breaches of orders are enforced quickly and appropriately, in discussion with complainants, our partners and the courts as appropriate.

 

5.0. Supporting the complainant and witnesses

We aim to build an environment where victims and witnesses feel confident and safe in coming forward to report ASB. We will work with our partners to provide support to the person reporting ASB and witnesses of ASB to achieve this.

We will support victims and witnesses of ASB by:

  • dealing with their reports in line with our service standards
  • involving them in discussions about the action plan to resolve their issue
  • keeping them informed of any developments
  • referring them to appropriate support services where necessary
  • provide information of other agencies eg the Police and local authority Environmental Health Team
  • where attendance at court is required, reimburse witnesses for travel expenses, explain court procedures, offer pre-visits to court in advance, escort to court and mentoring services
  • take practical action to protect complainants and witnesses, to ensure their property is safe, depending on assessment of risk.

Alternative housing options will only be considered as a last resort, where all other options have been exhausted and where there is evidence of risk to the customer. Our focus is on stopping the ASB, rather than on transferring customers elsewhere.

Sometimes the victim or witness may not be a customer in a Genesis property, but an owner-occupier or customer of another landlord. We will aim to work with our partners to support and protect that victim or witness.

 

6.0. Closing the case

After a report of ASB has been investigated, we will draw it to a close.  We will consult with the complainant beforehand and explain our reasons. We will listen to any reasons they give us as to why we shouldn’t close the case and advise them accordingly.

A case may be closed where:

  • an investigation has been concluded, appropriate action has been taken and no further incidents have occurred over a given period (this will vary depending on the nature of the case)
  • we are unable to get sufficient evidence in order to take any action.

If a complainant withdraws their complaint, we may close the case. In some cases where we have sufficient evidence, we may be able to continue to pursue the case without the complainant’s involvement.

The complainant will be notified in writing that the case is closed and that they can contact us again should the problems occur again in the future. On closing an ASB case we will seek the views of complainants and ask for their feedback on how satisfied they were with our handling of the case. We will use this information to improve our service.

 

7.0. Multi agency and partnership working

We recognise that any one agency alone may not be able to solve the problems of ASB in communities. We have adopted a multi agency approach to preventing and tackling ASB.

We will join local partnerships and work positively with external agencies, such as:

  • local Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships
  • police - community support officers and neighbourhood police teams
  • environmental health departments
  • the probation service
  • substance misuse agencies
  • health services
  • local authorities social services, including children’s and adult’s services teams
  • schools
  • youth offending teams
  • floating support agencies
  • other support and advocacy agencies.

We will work in partnerships at both the strategic level (for example on Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships) and at operational levels (for example with local police and support agencies).

 

7.1. Community trigger

The Community Trigger is one of a number of tools available to agencies in accordance with The ASB, Crime and Policing Act 2014. Genesis will participate in the procedure adopted by any local authority where we have properties and work with partner agencies to ensure victims of ASB are heard and action taken as appropriate.

We will appoint a lead officer to liaise with the  relevant body and will cooperate fully if a request for review is made by a Genesis customer. The lead officer will coordinate Genesis’ response and oversee and recommendations attributed to Genesis. 

 

8.0. Data protection and information sharing

The Power under section 115 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and the Data Protection Act 1998 allow agencies to disclose information for the detection and prevention of crime and anti-social behaviour. We will ensure that, where appropriate, we have signed local information sharing protocols so that information about complainants and perpetrators may be shared with other agencies for the purpose of preventing ASB or crime. Any information exchange will be compliant with the Human Right Act 1998.

 

9.0. Confidentiality

Interviews and conversations with customers about personal and sensitive matters will be carried out in private. The identity of victims, reporters of and witnesses to ASB will only be disclosed to third party with their expressed permission. However, in some cases, reporters need to be aware that it will be apparent to the alleged perpetrator who the reporter is.

 

10.0.          Multi landlord estates

Wherever possible, we will ensure that there is a consortium management agreement in place that sets out clear standards and agreed approaches in multi landlord estates.

 

11.0.          Involving customers

We will consult with our customers on ASB strategies and initiatives and will develop action plans to tackle ASB in partnership with customers. We will ensure we have effective feedback methods in place for customers to let us know their views, for example, through attending forums or responding to surveys. We will provide customers with performance reports containing information and updates on how we are dealing with ASB.

 

12.0.          Publicity

We will ensure that the wider community knows the successful outcomes of our work to prevent and tackle ASB through effective publicity.

We will ensure our customers understand what ASB is and how they can report incidents to us. We will publicise our approach at customers’ meetings and conferences, on our website, in newsletters, annual reports, leaflets and posters.

We will decide where to publicise action we have taken on a case by case basis. We will always balance the rights of the individual against those of the community. This means in some cases, action taken against perpetrators will not generally be publicised other than to customers who gave evidence.

 

13.0.          Staff support

 

13.1.          Abuse towards staff

We will not tolerate abuse against staff or contractors, whether physical or verbal. We will take appropriate action against customers and members of the public who are abusive, as set out in this policy.

 

13.2.          Supporting and training staff

We are committed to ensuring the safety of our staff.  We will provide support which may include appropriate training to help staff to be confident and knowledgeable to identify and investigate ASB reports and to cope with difficult and dangerous situations and to keep staff up-to-date with current best practice and legislation, including awareness of child protection and protection of adults from abuse.

 

14.0.          Monitoring our performance

We will record and monitor all incidents of ASB and use this data to benchmark, internally and externally. We will set targets and use performance indicators to monitor our performance on tackling ASB.

We will monitor cases of ASB by diversity strands – both of complainants of ASB and alleged perpetrators, and will analyse this data. This is in order to:

  • increase our understanding of who perpetrators and victims of ASB are
  • determine whether some groups might not be reporting ASB, or whether certain groups are disproportionally represented amongst alleged perpetrators or victims
  • tailor our services accordingly.

We will aim to continuously improve our range of ASB services, including our preventative initiatives and schemes, by listening to our customers and other key partners, through satisfaction surveys and customer feedback in all its forms.

 

Related documents

Internal

  • Hate incidents and hate crime policy
  • Domestic Abuse policy
  • Noise nuisance policy
  • Safeguarding children and young people policy
  • Safeguarding adults from abuse policy
  • Sex offenders policy
  • Equality and diversity strategy
  • Complaints policy
  • Communicating with customers policy
  • Environment policy statement
  • lone working procedure
  • Privacy, confidentiality and right to access personal information procedure
  • Data protection policy
  • Design and development guide

Relevant subsidiary policies and procedures, including lettings, complaints and resident and customer involvement policies, occupancy agreements and handbooks.

 

External

  • Reform of anti-social behaviour powers-Statutory guidance for frontline professionals July 2014
  • Promoting Respect: Tackling anti-social behaviour through partnership working - Housing Corporation Good Practice Note 13 2007
  • Anti-Social Behaviour Guide - Housing Corporation 2006
  • Anti-Social Behaviour - Factsheets 1 - 4 - Housing Corporation 2006
  • Vulnerable victims, witnesses and perpetrators of anti-social behaviour and racial harassment - Housing Corporation 2006
  • Regulatory Code and Guidance, Housing Corporation August 2005.
  • Protecting Our Communities: How Housing Associations are Tackling Anti-Social Behaviour - Housing Corporation 2004
  • Statutory Housing Management Guidance on anti-social behaviour policies and procedures - Circular 08/04 and Guidance on the Housing Corporation 2004
  • Inspection Uncovered: Anti-social behaviour - Housing Corporation 2003
  • Respect Standard for Housing Management - A guide for landlords, CLG, August 2006
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